2019 Day 21 – Inside Out

The angel turned me inside out.
The pavement was Rorschached with spilt milk but I didn’t cry
Unlike the crocodile
Who was wearing people skin boots
Two sizes too tight.
The angel turned me inside out
And I spilled my guts
Like a film noir stool pigeon.
I wasn’t expecting the splash
Of green spleen.
My shadow split three ways –
Was I expected to follow?
The angel turned me inside out
And all the butterflies escaped
Disguised as ballet dancers.
Their pirouettes blocked out the sun.
The angel turned me inside out
And the scanner sang “Bullet, bullet, bullet”.
My face was a mask of magnets.
The angel turned me outside in.
I gathered my errant shadows back together
And interpreted the pavement’s story
To the indifferent pigeons
And the butterflies.

 

Notes: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like The Color of Pomegranates and “City That Does Not Sleep,” incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.” This one is brought to you by courtesy of an MRI scan and a slightly weird imagination.

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2019 Day 20 – She’s Got a Lot of Nerve

She’s got a lot of nerve
Talking like that,
Like she thinks she’s everybody,
Like the sun shines out of her backside.
Who does she think she is when she’s at home?

Curled inside,
Girl child
Looks out
Through shaded eyes.

She’s bold as brass,
The little madam
Looking at me like that.
Wants taking down a peg or two.
Who does she think she’s talking to?

Words as shields
To keep safe.
Trust no-one.
They all lie.

 

Notes: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that “talks.” … Try to write a poem grounded in language as it is spoken – not necessarily the grand, dramatic speech of a monologue or play, but the messy, fractured, slangy way people speak in real life.”

2019 Day 19 – Ashore At Last

Ashore at last,
Boat beached, becalmed.
Cost counted,
Debts discharged.
Evening sky
Filled with fire.
Gently, we go
Home to
Inexplicable
Joy,
Knowing only
Loving lips,
Mouthing music
Now,
Opening hands,
Palms pressed to palms,
Quietness.
Reach out
Silently
To take this blessing,
Unquestioning.
Veiled vows.
We see through words like
X-rays.
You and I.
Zen.

 

Notes: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the words/order of the alphabet. You could write a very strict abecedarian poem, in which there are twenty-six words in alphabetical order, or you could write one in which each line begins with a word that follows the order of the alphabet.” I’ve aimed for a mood in this one.

2019 Day 18 – I Don’t Want To Write An Elegy

I don’t want to write an elegy
Because no-one I love
Should do anything as banal as dying.
I don’t want to write an elegy
Because it sounds so formal,
All Sunday-best and long faces
And the sickly sweet scent of lilies.
I don’t want to write an elegy
Because no-one I love
Is Sunday-best and formal,
Because you are wild dandelions
And hungover mornings
And songs sung off-key and loud as hell.
I don’t want to write an elegy
If you go ahead and die
Despite everything.
I want to scream and throw things
And rant at the unfairness of it all
And dress in clashing colours
And sing your favourite songs
Off-key in the middle of Market Street.
And if I should go first
Bear this in mind:
I don’t want you to write
A f***ing elegy.

 

Notes: The prompt was “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail. ” But I don’t want to…

2019 Day 17 – Map

Why did you think I’d tell you where to go?
I only show what is and isn’t there.
The path is yours to choose, you know.

With every step you take the choices grow.
Take this road or the next – why should I care?
Why did you think I’d tell you where to go?

I show the hills, but not the ice and snow,
The wolf that waits for you to reach its lair.
The path is yours to choose, you know.

I make no judgements. Let the record show
That I was never biased or unfair.
Why did you think I’d tell you where to go?

No matter if your journey’s fast or slow
I let you trace your passage through each square.
The path is yours to choose, you know.

Follow your heart, or trust the dice you throw,
Or travellers’ tales or Tarot cards or prayer.
Why did you think I’d tell you where to go?
The path is yours to choose, you know.

 

Notes: “Today, I’d like you to challenge you to write a poem that similarly presents a scene from an unusual point of view.” If a map could talk…

2019 Day 16 – This Is My Hand

This is my hand.
It has four fingers and a thumb.
This is my hand.
The ends of the fingers are red and rough from chewing; the thumb also.
This is my hand.
The skin over the finger joints is loose; it sags.
This is my hand.
It can write poems.
This is my hand.
The ends of the fingers are wrinkled from washing up.
This is my hand.
There is a blue vein standing out from the back. It squishes when you press it.
This is my hand.
In the winter the fingers turn white, then purple, then red, or sometimes all three together.
This is my hand.
It can stroke cats.
This is my hand.
There is a trace of chocolate under one fingernail. I can’t think how that got there…
This is my hand.
One fingernail has a ragged edge. This annoys me but my scissors are in the bathroom. I may chew it off.
This is my hand.
I have forgotten what the lines on my palm mean. Which is the life line, and which the heart?
This is my hand.
It can weave wire.
This is my hand.
Lately it cramps into strange shapes at unexpected moments.
This is my hand.
It is softer than you’d think.
This is my hand.
My fingers may be shrinking. Or maybe my rings are expanding. Either way, they’re loose.
This is my hand.
It can hold your hand.

Notes: “Today, I challenge you to write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane. ” Well, I managed a list about something mundane, in any case.

2019 Day 15 – Ado

No-one ever talks about the women of Sodom.
Funny that – you’d almost think
They didn’t matter.
I knew them. They were my neighbours,
Gossiping around the well on sunny mornings,
Swapping recipes and stories of our children.
Sometimes they shared (quietly, half whispered)
Other stories too
Of unwanted hands grasping, of forced kisses.
No-one talks about the children of Sodom:
The little girls who never grew up
To gossip and cook and share stories,
The little boys who had not yet learned
To treat women as things to be used.
When the strangers came, and my husband offered
My girls in their place to the lusting mob
I knew
He was not so different.
He gathered us like chattels as he fled.
I would have gone with him anyway –
What other choices did I have? –
But I looked back for the women of Sodom
And the children.
I took their tears into myself; now I am still as salt.
Someday it will rain.

 

Notes: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write your own dramatic monologue. ”  Lot’s wife is named in some traditions as Ado or Edith.

2019 Day 14 – Imaginary Menagerie

Oh what a bore! The boar’s got out
And so’s the deer, my dear.
What’s more, they’re headed for the moor
And they won’t be back, I fear.
The lion’s lying by the door
While the daw stares from the stair
And the raven’s raving ‘Nevermore’
While the hare’s doing her hair.
The seal’s still waxing lyrical
About sealing wax and pickets
And the bat is bawling for a bat and a ball –
Wants the cricket to pick it for cricket.
I won’t pander to pandas – it’s not fair that their fare
Is so fussy and hard to obtain
And I’ve made myself hoarse as I called for the horse
To remain while I plaited its mane.
I can’t bear this – the bear has gone AWOL again
And I’ve barely caught sight of the swallow
So I’ll go back inside and swallow my pride
And hope that the pride will all follow.

 

Notes: “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates homophones, homographs, and homonyms, or otherwise makes productive use of English’s ridiculously complex spelling rules and opportunities for mis-hearings and mis-readings.” Seemed like a cue for some animal puns.

2019 Day 13 – Woven

She weaves herself into this cloth,
Hair and blood and dreams and tears,
The twists and knots in light and dark
Of loves and hates, of hopes and fears.

Softly the weave entangles me,
Hair and blood and dreams and tears,
Cobweb light, yet woven strong
Of loves and hates, of hopes and fears.

She wraps my heart, my nights, my days,
Hair and blood and dreams and tears,
Till I become the pattern too
Of loves and hates, of hopes and fears.

 

Notes: “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something mysterious and spooky! Your poem could be about something that is mysterious and spooky in a bad way (like a witch), or mysterious and spooky in a good way (possibly also like a witch? It depends on the witch, I guess!) Or just the everyday, mysterious, spooky quality of being alive.” I wanted to suggest a spell or incantation with the repeated lines.

2019 Day 12 (b) – If Tomorrow

If tomorrow I should lose this tongue
The words will echo in my head
And I will hear the songs unsung.
If tomorrow I should lose this tongue
I know the bell can still be rung.
After all is done and said,
If tomorrow I should lose this tongue
The words will echo in my head.

 

Notes “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it. Alternatively, what would it mean to you to give away or destroy a significant object?”  Literally and metaphorically. The form is a triolet.